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Create an online profile that builds trust and generates leads

Online marketing is economical and highly effective, as the majority of today’s consumers conduct internet research before making any purchasing decisions.

As well as checking your website, potential customers will often observe how you interact with the public on social media sites and appraise pictures of your previous work. Consumers are also increasingly influenced by factors such as star ratings and consumer reviews.

There are several online platforms that you can use to showcase your work, build a strong brand, interact with potential customers and attract the all-important reviews.

Those particularly relevant to housing include:

  • HIA Tradebuild – HIA members can add a free listing to tradebuild.com.au – an online building and tradie directory to help customers find you.
  • Houzz – a photo-sharing website focused on homes and interiors. Creating a Houzz profile will put you right in front of a multitude of motivated potential customers. You can also showcase customer reviews and contribute to discussion and Q&A forums to increase visibility. Because it is so targeted, Houzz is an invaluable marketing tool for all housing professionals.
  • Google My Business – Google dominates online search so a Google My Business page is a must-have. When people find your business on Google Maps and Search, a Google My Business listing will show your opening hours, web address, street address, and average Google review star rating. You can also add photos.
  • TrueLocal – this online directory connects consumers with businesses and trades in their local area. Your profile page includes a company description, contact information, a photo gallery, reviews and star ratings.
  • Product Review – a brand management platform focused on third-party reviews and building star ratings for your business. You can interact with potential customers by responding to reviews and answering questions.

Creating a presence on several of these sites will improve your online profile and make your business more visible to motivated local customers who are searching for the products and services that you sell.

Writing a great company profile

A comprehensive, fully completed profile page on Houzz or TrueLocal will help reinforce your brand image. As with the ‘About Us’ page of your website, your profile should cover the ‘who, what, where and why’ of your business. Essentials include:

  • If the page has space for a profile photo, include one. This immediately forges a more personal connection with people browsing the site.
  • Fill out all contact fields and ensure your listing is in the most relevant category for your business. That way when people are looking for local businesses, your listing will appear.
  • The ‘business description’ section is your sales pitch: include an overview of your business, a list the services/products you offer, your unique selling point, awards and achievements.
  • Wording must be clear, concise, and error-free. A high quality profile demonstrates attention to detail, professionalism, and will improve lead generation.
  • Some sites have a ‘typical job cost’ field. Filling this out means you’ll attract the right sort of customer, rather than wasting time on people who aren’t quite the right ‘fit’ or who can’t afford your services.

Showcase your work with great photos

A picture tells a million words. Include high-quality photos wherever you can. According to Google, businesses that add photos to their listings receive 42% more requests for driving directions and 35% more click-throughs to their websites than businesses that don’t.

Interact with users of the site

Houzz and Product Review include discussion forums and/or Q&A capability. Participating in these forums helps to position your business as an expert/authority within your field. It also demonstrates your approachability, making readers more likely to send that enquiry email or pick up the phone.

Build reviews or star ratings

Online reviews are the millennial equivalent of word-of-mouth: the 2017 BrightLocal survey revealed that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. In another recent survey from Zendesk, 90% of respondents said positive reviews affect their purchasing decisions.

Always ask your customers to review or rate your services. If you’ve developed a rapport with them, you could ask in person. Alternatively, include the request when you email your invoice, along with a link to your review site and instructions on how to leave a review. Ask shortly around the close of sale as customers are more likely to provide feedback right away.

Dealing with negative reviews

If a disgruntled customer leaves a negative review on one of your online profile pages, always respond promptly, politely, and invite the negative reviewer to email you directly. Readers will be able to see your professional handling of the complaint and this will speak volumes about your approach to customer service.